Despite the Wes Welker injury and the belief that it will end any speculation about the NFL cleaning up the mess the end of this season became, the league does need to address what has become an embarrassment as the last few weeks of the season become a second exhibition season for the leagues elite. And we all know that a crappy field is the main reason Welker's season ended early.
I'm not going to rehash the opinion of the 'experts' who believe the NFL has no right to involve itself in personnel matters.
What I am going to do is say that as a customer, I'm not satisfied with the product and I've started turning off the TV- and I'm not the only one. As long as advertising revenue continues to be important to the league, people turning the TV off in the last few weeks of the season is an issue. I don't really buy when Roger Goodell talks about the 'integrity of the game.' When you have owners like Daniel Snyder and Al Davis as owners, the integrity of the game is already at great, unaddressable risk.
Rather than argue the plusses and minuses of playing your starters through a sixteen games season I'd like to offer two alternatives that might just give teams an incentive to play out the season and change the discussion:
1) Reverse the value of wins and losses for the draft after Week 12. That's right, from Week 13-17 make a win equivalent to what a loss was through the first 13 weeks. That team that goes 16-0 ? They'd effectively be 11-5 and likely in the mix for a better draft pick. It would also prevent bottom feeders from dumpster diving- were the Rams trying to win Sunday ? Nah. That's not enough of an incentive ? Based the draft on the adjusted standings after Week 17. Unfair ? The bottom half of the first round of the draft is crap-shoot anyway...Why 5 weeks ? The incentive needs to be enough to encourage teams to reach for 16-0 and 11-5 is a better break point than 12-4
2) Hold back 10% of the revenue sharing fees. Divide that total by the number of games played in the last four weeks, and distribute it based on wins. To make this work, you'd have to base revenue projections and sharing and the salary cap on the first 90% of profit. Distribute that last 10% percent to owners and players the same way that you would the other 90%- except teams would get a double share for each win, and no share for each loss. 10% is the equivalent of 3.2 teams revenue, which ought to be enough to make the organizations want the payout- 4 wins would would equal a 110% share at the current distributions. That's millions at stake.
These are just one fans ideas, but if I can come up with something...